Writer’s Boot Camp Day 29

I’m starting on this a little late today because I had physical therapy and then an amazing massage at Massage Geeks, and then pie. Now I’m home and going to do this before anything else.

Today I’m looking back at the past month and answering some questions.  

Were you able to make improvements to your writing routine?   

Hmmmm….I would have to say no. I don’t have a routine, part of this time I was off work for a few weeks, part of it I was starting a new position with my company.  Somedays I started writing at around 10 a.m, other days I was scrambling at around 10 p.m. Having a steady writing schedule would be super useful for me, but with my job up in the air the way it was that just wasn’t possible.  I still don’t know what my permanent schedule is going to be, so I can’t really plan anything out now. If I was rich and didn’t have to work then this would be a lot easier. As my friend, Lori says “Just be Rich” (inside joke about a bumper sticker)

Were you able to resist feeling guilt and uncertainty about your goal when other weren’t supportive?  

Yes and No.  Sometimes I did, but other times I felt really bad about the time I was spending do this that and how it is probably all a big waste of time.  I felt like I should have been paying attention to people or packing for my upcoming move. 

Do you want to re-evaluate your schedule?  

Yes, I would love to, if I had one. As soon as I know my work schedule I’ll figure something out.  

Which elements of your Boot Camp routine will you take forward with you?

Hopefully working on writing every day.  Even it if is just for 30 minutes a day that adds up to something in the long run.  Maybe blogging about the process like once a week.  

How far did you get with your WIP?

Well, I wrote a brand new short story,  got a good start on two others, wrote two poems start to finish and submitted them, started another poem, edited a previously written story and wrote 28 blog posts.  I am pretty amazing and I feel proud. 

What is your plan for the next month?  

I made a submission tracker last week with 12 projects I want to submit to.  I’ve only completed one so far, I intend to do most of the others, as many as I can.  I also plan to start another book on writing craft. I have about 10 to choose from. I’ll pick one tomorrow.  I’m not going to blog about it every day, but I should do at least once a week. I think having the blog has helped keep me focused.  I going to see if I can figure out how to get followers for my blog, so I can get feedback. 

Writer’s Boot Camp recommends that I write and publish a little book, 4th-grade style,  binding it myself and doing my own cover. That is actually a fun idea. I don’t have time to do this right now since I have a deadline tomorrow, but I’m putting it on my to-do list.   I think I’ll do this maybe as a fundraiser for getting my novel edited or something like that.  I still have my first ever “book” in that format! (No way I’m going to read that, but I’ll put up a picture of the cover). 

Time to read over my submission for tomorrow again and make a few more edits.  

******

I edited “Cinder” again, and I think it’s a good as it’s going to get.  I sent it to my friend Adriane to check for grammar and spelling and all that stuff.  I guess there isn’t much more I can do tonight unless I want to start on another story.  I sort of want to start on another story, but I think I have to do other things too right?  

Total writing time today is 1 hour 27 minutes

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 16

Today is all about figuring out my weak spots as a writer.  

The timeline given has 7 sections to think about:   

  1. Ideas- I’m pretty darn good at this.  I’m imaginative and creative.
  2. Rough Draft- no problems here generally,  sometimes I’m lazy or spend too much time in research, but the storytelling part is easy and comes naturally for me.  I like making shit up.
  3. First review- I enjoy the first reading of my work, while it’s still new.  I like making little changes, moving things around, tinkering with the characters.  This part sometimes makes me feel a little sad because I think “wow, you write like a little kid” but other times I love reading my own work.  I feel proud the first time I read through and edit a short story. Novels are different, I apparently refuse to read my novel, and the rough draft has been done 4 years!
  4. Second/Third/Fourth drafts –  I start getting a little bored, but I can do it.  I might have to take a day or two off from a project and work on something else, but I got this.  
  5. Proofreading and polishing – here things start to fall apart.   I don’t feel like I have the skill sets and tools to even try proofreading my own work.  Many of my projects dead stop right here.
  6. Sending out work – I have 12 “finished” but unpublished stories,  I have 18 “works in progress”. I have 0 places I plan to send them.  0, nada, none, zilch. I have a page on which to write deadlines, but it is blank.  I have a list of markets I should look into, but I never get around to it. I do have one piece that is scheduled for publication in September, so I do sometimes submit, but not often.  
  7. Dealing with rejection and resubmitting – Yeah, not so much.  I just cry.

That’s pretty clear.  I don’t find places to submit, so I never have to finish proofreading and then submit.  I don’t like rejection so I avoid it. Clearly, this is where I need to be focusing my attention.  It seems a little counterintuitive, but maybe for the next little while I should stop writing for this Writer’s Boot Camp and start spending the time searching markets.  That thought makes me feel a little sick.

Looking for calls and markets takes so much time, and so much reading and effort.  And once I find a place I almost always want to start a new story. I never feel like any of the ones I already have done will work.  This could be a stalling technique.

I guess I need to start adding “look for markets/submitting” to my daily tasks.  This seriously might be where I give up on this whole thing. This doesn’t sound fun at all anymore.

I’ve only been working on this half an hour and I feel emotionally drained, about to cry just thinking about it.  I’m going to feed the cats, take a break and then come back to this and start looking for story calls. Ick.

I found 12 possible magazines and anthologies to submit to in the next few months and put all the info in a spreadsheet.  

Aside from this blog post, I haven’t done any actual writing today and I’m not going to.  I just spend 1.5 hours reading calls and submission guidelines, that is enough for one day.  

Tomorrow I will put them in order by deadline date.  Then I’ll find something I already have finished and polish it up to submit or I’ll write something new to submit, but I’m doing these one at a time, trying to complete as many as possible.

Work time today was 2 hours

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 6

Today is all about monitoring my progress and treating writing like a “punch in, punch out” job, with all the aspects of a job such as doing the daily grind work even when you are not feeling any passion for it, making small measurable goals and tracking what you did while working.

The author, Rachel Federman says “there’s a great little thing that happens when you start monitoring your time….Just simply the act of recording how much time you put in will increase the amount of time you have”  I think this is a pretty good theory and one that I already sort do. I turn on a timer for 30 minutes before I start writing and I work at least that long, almost always longer “off the clock” so one thing I’m changing today is instead of a timer that tells me when to stop I’m going to use a stopwatch and record the time I spend,  if I finish in less than 30 minutes I will work on another project for a little while.

I’ve been doing the slog work all this week, and I notice someday are certainly more inspired than others, you can go look at the length and quality of my blog posts and tell which days I was feeling it and which days I wasn’t.  Today I’m not really feeling it to be honest. I have a job interview in a few hours that I’m nervous about and I have other things I would much rather be doing with my time. My house is messy and it’s a beautiful day outside, sitting at my desk seems hard and not very productive.

Writing for 30 minutes a day and doing a blog post every day are small measurable goals,  but since writing the blog takes more than 30 minutes I’m actually putting very little work into my projects.  So, I guess I should add another timed goal, to make sure that I work on some actual fiction every day, even if only for a few minutes, 10 maybe?  At least for the duration of the boot camp. After I finish working on “Writer’s Boot Camp” I will have those 30 minutes most days just to work on fiction.

20180507_141337The other thing I need is a more detailed work log, including time spent on each project.  I already sometimes keep a worklog in my writing planner, but I often forget to put things in there and I never monitor times.   I’m going to update it with times every day, and for the rest of this challenge, I’ll post it here too.  The author also feels that by tracking your work you will feel more able to accept the reward of a break, I don’t really do official “breaks”  I just go from one task to another all day, sometimes fucking around with my phone on facebook or playing games, or watching a few minutes of T.V, but it’s procrastinating and I always feel guilty about it,  maybe with the time tracking I can start taking real breaks doing fun things and not feel like I’m stealing time away from myself and my important tasks.

Today my writing work was:

About 20 minutes working on a script for a youtube channel I want to start and making a list of possible future episodes.

Some amount of time reading “Writer’s Boot Camp” day 6

4.5 minutes updating the worklog in my writer’s journal

25 minutes writing this blog post

16 minutes on “Eat the Rich”

12 minutes editing, adding a picture and posting this blog entry

Writer’s Bootcamp Day 2- Goals

Part 1 – Writing

Today started with writing for 1 hour before going on to the journaling part.  

I spent about the first 5 minutes of that closing browser tabs that had been left open from work.

Then I decided to write the short story I had thought of last night.  I don’t have a publication in mind for this one, no deadline or theme, just entertaining myself and getting into the habit of writing again.  

After 55 minutes or so of writing, I have 1109 words and a respectable beginning to a short story.

writingIt was fun and easier than I remember it being,  I just moved my fingers and words came out. Maybe not great words,  maybe not interesting words to form a story that anyone would want to read, but words.  The time flew by, time always seems to go really fast when I’m writing. I love writing when I’m doing it for the pure pleasure of itself,  I get so much joy for the act of telling stories. When I was a kid it was my escape from my scary life.

But in the working world of an adult, writing isn’t just a fun, cathartic thing I like to do.  Each moment has to be justified because each moment I spend writing is time that I am not doing something else that needs to be done.  Like today I can write because I am off for a few weeks and I can say this 30-day project is a stepping point in the long-term goal of turning this into my job.  There is no way the person I am currently could have just done this because she wanted to, the guilt would have burned away all the joy and creativity. Even as it was several times in the last hour I thought about the “more important” things I could be doing.  The things I have to get back to in just a few minutes after I do the other half of today’s assignment.

Part 2 – Goals

The book says I need goals,  I can’t just flit around writing whatever, whenever for the next 28 days.  I need a focus. I need to name the project and make a folder on my computer.  I need a schedule, a plan so that I can evaluate if I’m being successful or not.

This is where I panic and this boot camp thing seems too hard.  I suck at making and keeping goals like this. Because I never feel like I have picked the right goals,  I feel like someone else needs to give a fuck about what I am doing and validate my choices. But there isn’t anyone.  When I was married I tried to get my husband to be my writing “Dom”, but that wasn’t something he was into. And I am clearly not very good at being my own Dom.  At this point, I really want to give up and just cry. I’m going to walk away for a second, get a drink of water (cry) and come back, hold on.

DonnieOk, I’m back.  Hydrated, dehydrated for like 2 minutes, hugged a cat and played a stupid video game on my phone.

The book (Writer’s Bootcamp by Rachel Federman, I mention that since I’m doing direct quotes)  gives examples of goals I could have.

It can be a time goal like “20 minutes a day’

Or it can be a finishable project like “write a short story or essay”  or “write a poem to read at a workshop”

It can be working on something bigger like “finish a chapter in your novel”

A year ago when I started this my goal was to edit “Lost in Reflection”  that novel I wrote a few years before. To be honest I think that might be why I didn’t get very far last time, well, that and the leg breaking thing.  The thought of editing that book makes me want to never write again, it makes me sick to my stomach, it makes me want to jump out of a window. It’s not the book’s fault, in fact,  for being the first full novel I have ever written it’s not bad. However….

  1.  Editing isn’t fun, it isn’t exciting, it isn’t something I can write much of a blog about.
  1. Work to profit/cost ratio.  I worked about 4 hours a day for around 30 days to write it, so 120 hours.  I have edited and revised some of it already, but editing takes about twice as much time as writing, so add 240 hours.  Then I have to have someone else edit it, get a cover artist and then format it, then publish it (another 20 hours or so).  The last self-published book I wrote made about $70 so far. So if I finish this book, paid an editor the least amount I could, say $200, to give it a once-over,  and got a cover artist for the least possible amount, maybe $50, it will have cost me 380 hours and $180 to publish a book. That would put me in a super bad headspace.

bojackWhen I think about I realize this hobby costs me too much money and time, it’s just not worth it.  When I think of finishing my book, knowing I don’t have an audience interested in reading it I want to give up and do something that is at least free.  I would lose 0$ by watching tv. Doing nothing is more economically sound than being a writer. So, editing my novel isn’t my goal.

Leading us back to the question, what is my goal?  

I could write one blog post every day about what I am doing,  that’s a goal. But it’s sort of a meta-goal, if my project is writing about my project then I can see possible days in which that doesn’t work. I think doing a blog post every day should be part of my goal, but not the goal itself.  

I don’t want this to be a timed goal every day,  because I have a feeling that each of these daily tasks will have its own time to finish,  I don’t want to feel like I’m racing a clock and I also don’t want to be sitting here with a timer running and have nothing to do.  

My instinct is to have a goal with completion built in,  like “write and submit 3 new short stories”, 3 stories in a month is reasonable goal,  but this doesn’t take into account all the extra time that I would spend searching for markets to submit them,  formatting them to guidelines and stuff like that. That stuff needs a totally different challenge. Before I started trying to be a professional writer I had no idea how much time writers spend doing business work instead of writing.  The other problem with this goal is what if I finish and publish 3 stories before the end of the 30 days?dryden

Days like this I really wish I had a manager or something.  I wish I had someone to tell me what to do. I really enjoyed writing for Dryden House because the publisher, Katie would just tell me what she wanted, when she wanted it and then bully me until I did the work. I miss that.

I’m over 2 hours in on this today and I still haven’t done the thing I have set out to do.  

Ok, I’m going with 3 short stories.  They can be brand new like the one I started today or they can be pulled out of my “in process folder”,  but not my “finished- needs publishing folder” as that would be cheating. The business side stuff (searching markets, contacting publishers and networking) counts as working, so if it says “write an hour” I’m going to take that to mean “write or do writing business for an hour”

Goal:

In the next 28 days, I will write and submit for publication 3 short stories and blog something about the process every day.  

Which Home?


Up until now I have always written something new for the Trifecta prompt, that is sort of the point for me.  While I am editing this novel I don’t have much chance to write new stories, and I fear the creative parts of my brain meats will dry up like beef jerky.  Writing something fresh with the prompt lets me just run wild with it, as opposed to editing with is soul numbing. However I have been neglecting the editing, so today I decided to post something from the novel instead, to encourage me to do better work on it.  It took almost as long to edit this passage (which started out at 500+ words, lots of which were so, really and very) as it does to write something new.  I tend to be uselessly wordy, over describing things and babbling. Having word limits has helped me work on this problem.

The following is from “Lost in Reflection” which will be released later this year.   The story is about Marney, a 16 year old who ends up trapped in a another world.

***

You can’t survive alone.  Most people stay in dense, walled towns like Derry, where the buildings touch and the people know each other.  The gates lock at sundown every day. Only in numbers do people have safety, because out there are dangers and temptations of darkest dreams and delightful nightmares. Every fairytale agrees about that.  There’s a sort of magic here which some humans even learn to use. A wizard lives in Derry to help keep the town safe from magical threats, native beings, and for lack of a better word, monsters.

I’m lucky the worst thing I met were cranky chickens.  There are so many scary things here that many don’t even have names.  There are rules: Don’t be alone outside a city at night.  If anyone offers you food and you’re not 100% sure they’re human, don’t eat it.  Don’t play games with non-humans, just to name a few. Most rules have exceptions.  If you’re out at night, light a fire, unless you think you might attract Fireflies. Don’t follow bouncing lights unless you’re already lost and think it might lead to safety.   There are too many to remember, and I have a feeling they change anyway.

Mrs. Shaw let me stay and work at the Milk Maid.  The work wasn’t hard; cooking, cleaning, and gardening.  The sort you do with your body while your mind thinks about other things.  At first I was always thinking about getting home, but soon I realized I was thinking about home less and less.

This place was great.  No one had called me fat or questioned my sexuality.  I didn’t miss school, and loved being treated as an adult.  I liked the people, inn, and town.  The happier I was the guiltier I felt. Mom had a hard time raising me alone, after my father left. Even twelve years later she has trust and commitment issues. When he left, it broke her heart in half, me disappearing must have shattered what was left.

Winning NaNo

I won NaNo!  Yay!!!

This means I wrote over 50,000 words on a novel in the month of November.    The novel has a beginning, most of the middle and an end. It is an ok story that mostly makes sense.  Hopefully after editing it will be a good story that people will enjoy reading.

I am 15 pages in to editing, with all the emotional swings that come with it.  I can go from loving this novel to hating it in a few minutes and then back again.  Editing is way harder than writing and much less satisfying.  For me the writing is almost play and the editing is the actual ‘work’ of being a writer.  That and marketing, but not all writers do their own marketing.  The rest of editing is intimidating, but I hope to finish it this month.  Then have it proof read and edited for grammar, spelling and punctuation.

I have a few great ideas for new novels, but I have to finish this one first.   If I work hard it will be out in February.

I loved the graph and having daily goals.  I normally just write however much I want to write and then edit when I edit.  Aside from actual deadlines for story submission I don’t normally have goals.  Sometimes I have time goals like “Write 2 hours today”  but not word count.  I loved having goals and a way to track the progress, it kept me working hard to stay on track.  If I slacked off for a day or two then I would put in 5 or 6 hours one day to get back on track.   I need to do this with my editing.

I only went to one NaNo event and hardly posted anything on the forums.  One of the reasons I choose to do NaNo was for the social aspect, but I failed at that part completely.  Next year I want to be more involved and make friends.

Did you do NaNo?

Did you ‘win”?

What are you going to do with your 50,000 words?

Was there a hard part of NaNo for you?

What did you like and dislike about it?

Almost done

Technology is amazing.

I just put what I hope is the final version of my book on the kindle, which by itself is amazing.  But there is a link in “About the author” to this blog.  And if you click it, my blog shows up!   And Jamie’s art work shows up if you click a link in the acknowledgements.  (My husband figured out the link thing not me, but I figured out all the rest of the stuff).

I just can’t get over that.  It is like magic.

This book looks so professional.  And I did this.  I had all the ideas, I wrote all the words, I edited (this I had help with), I put in all the art work (except Jamie’s cover), I formatted it, and I converted it.

I feel like a superhero tonight.

I hope the upload to Amazon and the release tomorrow go well.

If it does there will be a link here tomorrow so you can go buy it!!!  Yay!!!